Most people think of a “contract” as a written agreement signed by two different parties. But what people don’t realize is that they can enter into contracts simply by exchanging emails with one another. This could leave a party open to having a court determine each parties’ intent through litigation.
With email being a common form of communication, a series of email exchanges can create a contract in the eyes of Texas. Depending on the circumstances, Texas courts can find that emails between two parties are enough to create an enforceable contract.
The Texas Statute of Fraud requires certain contracts, such as contracts for land and contracts over a year in length, to be memorialized in writing. In the past, Texas courts have held that emails with signatures can serve as the written memorialization under the Texas Statute of Frauds. This includes multiple emails sent over an extended period.
Texas courts may also analyze emails between parties to determine whether there is an intent that the parties are bound by the terms of the emails. Courts will look to see if the written memorialization is complete enough such that all the essential elements of the contract are present to show the intent of the parties. Recently two Texas Supreme Court cases discussed whether email communication is sufficient to memorialize a contract according to the Statute of Frauds, so this continues to be an issue faced by Texas courts.
Without a negotiated written agreement, individuals and business owners may have to rely on a court to determine whether a set of email communications should be construed as a binding contractual agreement.
Don’t jeopardize your business arrangements by failing to exercise your freedom to contract. At Waldron & Schneider, our firm has decades of litigation and transactional experience to help you memorialize your business dealings so that you are protected with more certainty in your business.
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Article written by Waldron & Schnedier Associate Samuel Usnick. Visit his attorney profile by clicking here: Samuel Usnick.